Who is Barcelona’s Number 14 Aitana Bonmatí?
Spanish born Aitana Bonmatí Conca was born in Sant Pere de Ribes, Spain on the 18th of January 1998. During her childhood, she played basketball but found her love for football at the age of 7 as she played alongside the boys within mixed teams. The first clubs she played for were CD Ribes and CF Cubelles which both featured male/mixed gender teams, which, Bonmatí vows her success too as it helped improve her strength and intensity. At the age of 13, she joined Barcelona to play for their youth team in which she used to get the bus to the stadium for so she could attend practice.
She started her youth career when she joined Juvenil-Cadet, the second-highest developmental team for girls at FC Barcelona in 2012. In 2013 when Bonmatí was 15 years old, she was called up as part of Spain’s squad for the 2013-14 UEFA Women’s U-17 Euro. She scored her first national team goals as she scored a brace against Germany in their group stage match as they won 4-0, helping Spain finish first in Group B. From that point, Spain advanced into the semi-finals after their 2-1 win against England. Bonmatí featured in the final for the club as Spain finished runners-up in the tournament but were defeated on penalties against Germany.
In 2013 as Bonmatí spent her time at Juvenil-Cadet, she won the team’s respective league and the Copa Catalunya competition. During the final of the Copa Catalunya the match went to penalties where Bonmatí converted a penalty into a goal, but the team ended up losing 4-2 to Sant Gabriel after the shootout. In that same year, she participated in the 2014 U-17 Women’s World Cup where she played mostly a substitute role. She was brought on as a substitute in the semi-final at half-time against Italy where Spain defeated them 2-0. However, she also featured as a substitute in Spain’s match against Japan, but they lost 2-0.
Bonmatí moved up to become a Barcelona B after spending 2 years at the club and sparingly made appearances for the first team during their preseason. However, throughout their 2015-16 season, she played an important role in securing the teams title in the championship of Second Division, Group III for the first time in the club’s history as she scored 14 goals for the club. Due to her commitment and performance, she was promoted to the first team by the manager Xavi Llorens.
She made her first team debut during the quarterfinals of the 2016 Copa de la Reina in FC Barcelona’s match against Real Sociedad. She continued to feature throughout the tournament as a substitute in which she came on late in the club’s semi-final win against Levante as they defeated them 3-0. She made her debut in the UEFA Women’s World Cup as she featured in the Round of 32 game against FK Minsk. In her first season with the senior team, she was used sparsely as she only made 13 appearances with 3 starting 11 games and scoring 2 goals, which, came as a brace against Oiartzun KE.
Throughout Bonmatí’s youth career, she played at every junior level of the Spain’s national team, including the U-17, U-19, and U-20 teams. Bonmatí was used sparsely again during the 2017-18 season as she made most of her appearances within the league. Her only goal of the season and also her first Champions League goal came during the Round of 16 game against Gintra Universitetas. She was also subbed on during the 2018 Copa de la Reina final that went into overtime and ended with Barcelona winning, which gained Bonmatí her second major title with the club.
Her first senior national team callup came as she was called up for two 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying matches. She made her first debut for the national team during their match against Austria as she was subbed on for Amanda Sampedro in the 53rd minute. Her first international tournament experience came as she was called up to participate in the 2018 Cyprus Cup. However, she made limited appearances throughout the tournament, but won her first title with Spain’s senior team as they defeated Italy.
As Bonmatí went into the 2018-19 season, it became her breakthrough season as she made consistent starts for the team. She also made regular Champion’s League appearances as she only scored once against Glasgow City in the Round of 16. She started in FCB Femeni’s first ever Champions League final, but the club found themselves losing 4-1 against Lyon, but, her performance of outrunning Shanice van de Sanden went viral as she prevented a counter-attack down the right wing. She ended the 18/19 season with 12 goals and played all but 5 matches throughout all competitions.
Despite receiving an approach from Bayern Munich, she resigned a contract with Barcelona in the summer of 2019 that kept her at the club until 2022. She won Catalan women’s player of the year with 68% of the vote due to her performance with Barcelona and Spain in the previous season. In May of 2019, she was named to the Spain’s 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup squad and featured in two group stage matches. Spain were ultimately defeated in the Round of 16 by eventual winners United States. Bonmatí also featured in each of Spain’s 2019 qualifying matches for the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022, ending the qualifying phase with 6 goals.
In 2020, Bonmatí made her 100th appearance for Barcelona as she came on as a substitute against CD Tacón. However, after a brief period of injury, she was substituted in both matches of the 2020 Supercopa Femenina. Months later, the RFEF decided to suspend the 19/20 league due to COVID-19 awarding Barcelona the title and making it her first league title with the club as a senior player.
As the 2020-21 season played out, Bonmatí played in the final of the 19/20 Copa de la Reina against EdF Logroño, which was postponed a year later than it was normally due to the pandemic. She scored Barca’s second goal of the final from a shot just inside the box and earned the title of the Copa de la Reina Final MVP due to her performance. During the semi-finals of the 2020-21 UEFA Women’s Champions League, she provided an assist to Jenni Hermosa that helped Barca draw in the first leg against PSG. Barca went onto win the following match against PSG 2-1 in which she started but was subbed out in the 79th minute for Asisat Oshoala. She started in her second Champions League game against Chelsea Women and scored from a ball by Alexia Putellas giving Barca a 3-0 lead in the 21st minute. The club finished as champions after a 4-0 win and Bonmatí’s performance won her the Champions League Final MVP. Her goal was also voted 5th-best of the tournament, and she was named to the UWCL Squad of the Season for the first time ever. Later in that year, she was listed as a nominee to the UEFA Women’s Champions League Midfielder of the Season award.
Bonmatí played in the 2022 Women’s EURO competition as she played in 4 goals and scored 1 goal. However, she is currently studying Physical Activity and Sports Sciences at Ramon Llull University in preparation for the end of her footballing career and her development into sports science.